GetBackers

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Name: GetBackers (a.k.a. Get Backers)
ゲットバッカーズ -奪還屋 Gettobakkāzu Dakkanya
Abbreviation(s): GB
Creator: Yuya Aoki (writing)
Rando Ayamine (art)
Date(s): Manga: 1999 - 2007
Anime: 2002 - 2003
Medium: manga, anime
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Official Manga translation (American)
Official DVD release (American)
Official DVD release (Japanese)
Get backers.jpg
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An action-comedy-supernatural-adventure story blending classic tropes of fight shounen series with Western-influenced buddy stories, GetBackers has a small, generally wank-free fandom, consisting mostly of yaoi shippers.

Canon Overview

GetBackers is an action-oriented shounen manga originally published in Weekly Shounen Magazine and later collected into 39 tankoubon. The first fourteen volumes (give or take) were adapted into the anime, which ran for 49 episodes from 2002-2003. There have as yet been no OAVs, but there have been four drama CDs adapting later manga arcs, as well as a few video games. The American edition of the manga is published by TokyoPop, starting in 2004, and the official American anime release was licensed by ADV in 2004 and released later that year.

The story centers around the adventures of Ban Midou and Ginji Amano, a pair of guys who together call themselves the GetBackers. They work as freelance dakkanya (retrievers), paid by a wide range of clients to "get back" things that have been lost or stolen, using their wits, strength, and superpowers to earn their living and stay off the street. Or not--most of the time they end up sleeping in their car. Joining them are the usual varied cast of friends, allies, rivals, and enemies (many of whom change from one role to another through the course of the series, as is typical for shounen series.)

GetBackers shows some Western influence; the characters' super-powered abilities resemble the superheroes of American comics, and the buddy relationship of the titular partners is reminiscent of many American movies and TV shows. But the most notable aspect of the canon is arguably the slashiness--anime fans have referred to the series as "It's not called 'Het Backers'"[1] or "GayBackers"[2](meant either derisively and complimentary, depending on the source). While some fans accused the anime creators of adding yaoi elements to make it more popular with fangirls[3], the original manga had numerous suggestive elements, including a full two-page spread of two bishounen kissing (in addition to quite a bit of male-aimed ecchi fanservice.)

Fandom Overview

English-speaking GetBackers fandom is small and generally low-key. It was one of the earlier anime fandoms to get its start primarily on livejournal rather than on forums or mailing lists, and the fandom started before any American company licensed the series. As there were few fan translations or scanlations of the manga available, most early English-speaking fans got into the anime first, watching it as it was released in Japan, either in raw Japanese or with fansub translations, usually produced within a few days of the episode's original airing. Possibly because of this, a fair percentage of the early fandom had some knowledge of Japanese, and there was occasional crossover with the Japanese fandom.

Although GetBackers is technically a shounen series, the majority of the fandom is female, possibly because of the yaoi hints in the canon. Unlike series such as Naruto and One Piece that have primarily female followings on livejournal and elsewhere, but also largely male followings in different communities, GetBackers does not have a significant male fanbase to speak of.

The main community is the Get Backers lj comm, created in March 2003, before any official translations of the series (either manga or anime) were available, and posts included scans or photos of current manga chapters and links to episode downloads, in addition to fanfic, fanart, and discussion. When the anime and manga were officially licensed by American companies, the comm's rules changed to forbid the distribution of scanlations and fansubs.[4]

Pairings

Most of the popular GetBackers pairings are yaoi, partly because the majority of the cast is male and partly because much of that male cast has a lot of subtext, not only the standard shounen friendships and rivalries, but also many hugs and professions of loyalty, "the 's' means you're never alone," and a pair of partners who usually sleep in their (tiny, two-seater) car together. Even many non-yaoi fans found the subtext undeniable, sometimes to their dismay. The most popular pairings are Ban/Ginji (sometimes called "BanGin" from the Japanese fandom's pairing-smush, especially favored because in lowercase it's rendered bangin'; other Japanese pairing names are not as commonly used) and Juubei/Kazuki (as Kazuki is frequently mistaken for a woman--in canon as well as by fans--this one's practically a given, and the manga artist himself joked about wanting to draw a yaoi doujinshi for them.[5] Later manga events added Toshiki to make this ship a threesome). Secondary yaoi pairings include the enemyship of Akabane/Ginji, the rivalship of Shido/Ban, and Masaki/Teshimine (the last mostly among anime fans, as Masaki's character wasn't introduced until late into the manga.)

The most common het pairing is likely Shido/Madoka (the only canon pairing in the series). Ginji/Natsuki and Ban/Himiko are hinted in the canon and shipped on occasion, though the majority of fans tend to prefer Ban and Ginji in yaoi ships; even on ff.net there is a low incidence of Mary Sue fanfics. There is some yuri as well, including Himiko/Clayman, and Natsuki/Reina among manga fans.

Probably because of the small size of the fandom, there is relatively little conflict among shippers; although predominately yaoi, the main lj community emphasizes open-minded fanning--"slash-friendly (and het-friendly, darnit)"[6]--and most fans have a live-and-let-live attitude about other ships.

On Names

As is the case in many animanga fandoms, there is some disagreement over the names. While most of the characters have Japanese names and thus do not have Anglicization issues (save Kazuki, also written as Kadzuki or Kadsuki in English and Japanese various sources) titles and places are translated in some sources and not in others. In particular, there were multiple versions of fansubs for the anime, some which used the Japanese names and others which translated them to English; the official subtitles and manga translations also translated these terms, but often differently. So Mugenjou may be called the "Infinite Fortress" or the "Infinity Castle," and Raitei may be the "Lightning Emperor" or the "Thunder Emperor," depending on the source. All of these variants appear in fanfic, and some fan writers may employ more than one in the same story.

The title of the series itself is sometimes in doubt; while the Japanese manga is titled "GetBackers" (written out in English), many sources insert a space to make the more grammatical "Get Backers."

Resources

References

  1. It's not called "Het Backers" posted by angrybabble on 2003-03-04 (accessed 1/2009)
  2. I have some wonderful Gaybackers....err, I mean Get Backers pics for all of you." --DazzleKitty on Animenation forums, posted 03.11.2007 (accessed 1/2009)
  3. "and they were not soooo gay. that is sooo not in the plot." --Yummy Lingo on Animestan forums on Feb 02, 2007 (accessed 1/2009)
  4. About for Get Backers lj comm, updated MARCH 2004 (accessed 1/2009)
  5. "And then Kadzuki gets *bleep* and then he *bleep* and then Juubei has to come and save him!" --translated from Ayamine's web freetalk by Sabina on Aestheticism.com (accessed 1/2009)
  6. About for Get Backers lj comm (accessed 1/2009)